Media magnate Kalanithi Maran is close to buying about 37 per cent equity in low cost carrier Spicejet at an estimated Rs. 45 a share that would cost him about Rs 700 crore.

“They are in dialogue and may strike a deal in a day or two,” a source close to the development told PTI.

“If they (Maran) want to have majority stake in the company, they may have to spend a lot more than an estimated about Rs 700 crore for the stake of Bhupendra Kansagara and Wilbur Ross,” the sources said, adding that a majority stake would necessitate an open offer.

This could entail an outgo of over Rs 1,000 crore in case an open offer for 20 per cent stake is made pursuant to acquisition of 37 per cent stake of promoters, the source said.

Spicejet closed the day three per cent lower at Rs 56.05 a share on BSE though trading sentiment was favourable and the BSE benchmark index Sensex improved 142 points to end at 17,064.95 points.

The carrier claims a market share of 13 per cent and operates 129 flights daily to 18 cities, with a fleet of 19 Boeing aircraft.

It plans to launch international flights, starting with services to neighbouring Bangladesh and Nepal from this month.

While Spicejet officials remained tight-lipped about the reports, some of which said that the deal has been clinched, its promoters including Bhupendra Kansagara could not be contacted despite several attempts.

On the other hand, top officials of Maran’s Sun TV denied any knowledge of the development. Mr. Kalanithi Maran or other promoters could not be contacted for comments.

The deal could involve Mr. Maran buying 31 million shares of Bhupendra Kansagara and 125 million shares of American investor Ross.

The airline has seen interest from domestic and international investors for nearly four years now. Tatas picked up over six per cent stake in the airline in 2006.

Investor Wilbur Ross pumped in Rs 345 crore in 2008 and the same year Goldman Sachs injected over Rs 90 crore.

A top official of Spicejet, however, said on condition of anonymity that Mr. Maran’s entry into the company would be good.

Asked if it meant more capital, he said that “Spicejet doesn’t need capital. But one consolidated owner would be lot better than the present fragmented ownership.”

In the meanwhile, Spicejet spurred the process of conversion of warrants of Mr. Ross into shares, and a company official said that the timing was incidental to the negotiations Mr. Maran is holding with promoters.

“We have to meet a deadline of December for conversion of shares. But at the same time, caution needs to be taken that it doesn’t trigger an open offer. Therefore, you could expect two-three big chunks for conversion,” a Spicejet official said.

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